Some types of lily, including Easter lilies, tiger lilies, stargazer lilies, and some type of day lilies, can be extremely dangerous to a cat that makes the mistake of eating them. All parts of the plants are toxic to cats, and ingesting only a small amount of leaf, stem, flower, or even pollen is enough to cause potentially fatal kidney damage. Dogs are not susceptible to lily poisoning.
Cats suffering from lily poisoning typically vomit, lose their appetites, are lethargic, and either urinate more or less than is expected, depending on the stage of their disease. Lily ingestion causes kidney failure, which can be diagnosed by a veterinarian through routine blood work and a urinalysis.
If you suspect that your cat may have eaten a piece of a lily plant, take it to a veterinary hospital immediately. If the cat ate the plant within the last few hours, the veterinarian may induce vomiting and administer medications that help prevent the toxic substances from being absorbed into the body. Cats that have ingested lilies will need to be hospitalized for intravenous fluid therapy, which can help protect and maximize kidney function as the toxins are eliminated from the body. The veterinarian will need to run blood work throughout the cat's stay in the hospital to monitor for any changes in its condition. Even with aggressive treatment, some cats that have absorbed large amounts of lily toxin may not be able to be saved. Protect your cats from lily poisoning by keeping only pet-safe plants inside the house and not letting cats roam outside.
Written by: Jennifer Coates, DVM
Last reviewed: October 2, 2008